Rural journalists urge more community radio stations

Jul 08, 2005: Journalists and intellectuals in rural Pakistan are calling on their government to issue more licenses for small, community radio stations. Participants at a recent gathering in the Bahawalpur district agreed that more grassroots media would help hold local officials more accountable. Rural Media Network Pakistan organized the June 28 seminar on freedom of expression. The discussion covered a variety of issues, including licenses for independent radio stations, freedom of information laws, and recent government attempts to punish newspapers by withholding advertising. Ehsan Ahmed Sehar, convenor of the network, noted a political power shift from the capital to rural areas. The participants urged the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to help ensure more checks and balances by issuing more community radio licenses. In recent years PEMRA itself has urged faster allocation of frequencies for independent broadcasters. But the agency has said that security agencies must give up a bigger share of the limited spectrum. Journalists from four regional press clubs and the National Press Union attended the seminar. They expressed a need for more training facilities for rural journalists, who they said are the backbone of the newspaper industry.

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28 June 2005 Seminar

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